Welcome to ZenUnwired; a blog dedicated to tracking developments in technology and strategy, and to deciphering the impact of these developments on wired and wireless ISP's, device manufacturers, OS and application developers, and most importantly - you.

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Common Sense Approach to Integrating Mobility Into Your Business

As the entire world is going "mobile", businesses are struggling with questions on how to approach 'mobility', and how 'mobile' can be integrated into their business. Here's a common sense approach to get you moving down the road.

Improve your understanding of the nuances of mobility and mobile behaviors before you ramp up your investment in mobile.   Establishing a center of excellence that puts mobility at the core, and integrates it with other business initiatives, can get a business thinking about mobile more strategically.

Secondly, realize that going mobile is not the same thing as having an app. In fact, avoid the temptation to "app everything." A lot of content — whether video or text-based — can easily be optimized for mobile consumption. Popular apps such as Flipboard or Pulse point to a future of consumer "appgregation" — using one app to aggregate many sources of content. Instead of creating a whole host of apps that few are likely to download, invest in making your "digital ecosystem" more mobile-friendly.

Lastly, don't put mobile tactics in front of strategy. In the early days of the web, every site seemed to have an animated GIF or a clunky site-counter. In the early days of social, companies spent millions on costly Facebook apps with cute gimmicks but no real utility or sharing value. Today, companies are scrambling to come up with something "mobile" whether or not it makes sense for their long-term business goals, and whether or not users will actually want it. The outcome is the same in across all of these examples: a low number of visits/installs/downloads and ho-hum business results. Tomorrow's winners of today's mobile gold rush will boast significant (and sustainable) usage numbers due to the value of their content, whether it's sheer utility or impossible-to-ignore entertainment value.

Before doubling down on mobile, any business should first ask themselves if they really understand mobility as a behavior and lifestyle, followed by tough questions about the role mobile plays in their business. From there, a strategy for mobile, built on an understanding of mobility, can take root.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Nexus 7 - Does It Have What It Takes?

A few weeks ago, when the blogosphere was rife with rumors of an impending Google branded tablet, I chanced upon an article in eWeek titled "10 Things a Google Tablet Must Have to Challenge Amazon Kindle Fire" that I thought made some very pertinent assertions. Now that the Nexus 7 is here, I thought I'd go back and see how the Nexus 7 stacks up, and whether it meets eWeek's "10 Things". So here goes:


e-Week's Rationale + What Happened Status
Google branding
e-Week: The last thing Google should do is brand its tablet with Motorola Mobility's logo. To beat Amazon, the search giant must call it the Google Tablet and make it clear that from conception to implementation the tablet idea is its own. Consumers trust Google; they don't necessarily trust Motorola Mobility to make a tablet, as evidenced by the company's sluggish sales in that market. Google must keep that in mind.

What Happened: "Google Nexus 7" Branding, Made by ASUS

A unique operating system
e-Week: Although Kindle Fire runs Android, the operating system is unlike anything consumers have seen. Amazon spent considerable time fiddling with Android to make the Kindle Fire's OS its own. The smart move then is for Google to do the same with Android. Uniqueness matters in the tablet market.

What Happened:  Android Jellybean 4.1

A desirable eBook experience
e-Week: Google realizes eBooks are the future. But so far, Amazon's Kindle eBooks are leading that space. For the Google Tablet to take on the Kindle Fire, the search giant must make a desirable eBook experience central to its plans. Such a move could go a long way in attracting those who want to get into eBooks, but don't know where to start.

What Happened: eBooks front and center. The home screen launches with a view of all of the media on the device - eBooks, Movies and Music (this is enabled via a widget that is removable)

It's all about integrated services
e-Week: If Amazon and Apple have proved anything in the tablet market, it's that integrated services are central to a device's success. Apple has iTunes, the App Store and iBooks. Amazon has the Kindle eBook store, Prime Instant Video and its own App Store. Google must bundle all of its many services in its own tablet. To not do so would be a huge mistake.

What Happened: Integrated services for work and play. Examples include: Media: Music, video (now incl. rentals), apps and books (incl. magazines!) via Google Play, etc.

A better price?
e-Week: By the end of 2011, it was clear that pricing was one of the most important features of any tablet. The Kindle Fire likely wouldn't be as successful if not for its $199 price tag. Google will need to determine the right price point for its own tablet. But if it's more expensive than the Kindle Fire, it might lose out. A cheaper price might be Google's only option as it aims to move into the Kindle Fire's market niche.

What Happened: Priced at $199 for a 8GB model and $249 for a 16GB model. Even though the price is similar to the Kindle Fire's price, Google is offering early adopters a $25 Google Play credit, plus a few free items preloaded on the tablet (Transformers movie, etc.). Plus the Kindle doesn't have a 16GB variant

Wide-ranging availability
e-Week: One of the main reasons Amazon's Kindle Fire has proved successful is its availability. Each time a person loads up Amazon.com, he or she finds the Kindle Fire on the homepage. Considering how popular Amazon.com is, that's a huge advantage for the retailer's device. To combat that, Google must make its tablet available, well, everywhere. Ubiquity is the only way for Google to stem the Kindle Fire's rise.

What Happened: The Nexus 7 is being launched extremely widely across multiple countries in multiple continents [although to the best of my knowledge, Google has shied away from calling it a 'Global Launch']

A clear marketing message
e-Week: Looking around the tablet space, it's hard to find a single company, outside of Apple and Amazon, that truly understands how to market its tablet. Commercials are abstract and confusing. Online ads lose touch with the average consumer's desires and, along the way, sales fizzle. Google must know what it wants to say about its tablet as well as what consumers want to hear. If it can't do that, it'll be in trouble.

What Happened: Google has never been one with a clear marketing message, and this time its no different. After the launch, Google has been relatively quiet, and honestly, I doubt that the general public is even aware of an impending launch of the Nexus 7

Laser-like market focus
e-Week: One of the key reasons Amazon has been so successful in the tablet space is that it understands what market segment it is trying to reach. It's not going after consumers with boatloads of cash to spend-instead, it is targeting customers who haven't bought a tablet yet but perhaps don't want to spend too much to do so. Google must also determine what its market is and stick with that. If it doesn't, hard times will follow.

What Happened: Same story here as in (7) above, in my opinion. While the specs of the Nexus 7 clearly shows that Google is gunning for the Kindle Fire, there isn't anything else that indicates that Google is targeting any specific segment of the market.

A 7-inch screen only
e-Week: There are some people who believe that the best way to beat Amazon's Kindle Fire is to trump the device's screen size with something larger. That's a mistake for one main reason: It risks consumers misconstruing the tablet's competitor as the iPad. The last thing Google should want to do is compete against Apple's iPad. Amazon's Kindle Fire is beatable; the iPad isn't. And to even make consumers think that Google's device is competing against Apple's slate would be a huge misstep on the search giant's part.

What Happened:  7" screen. Although with the "7" branding, and the current rumors that Amazon is prepping a larger-screen Kindle Fire, Google seems to have left the door open for say - a 'Nexus 10'.

A commitment to the cloud
e-Week: Lastly, it's important for Google to focus heavily on the cloud. Although many consumers in the mainstream have yet to make the move to the cloud, it won't be long before they do. What better way to get buyers to choose Google's tablet than to deliver cloud storage and data synchronization services with its device? The cloud should be central to any plans Google might have with its tablet.

What Happened: Google is, and has always been all about the cloud. Therefore, I'm a bit surprised that this requirement even made it to e-Week's list. That said, the Nexus 7 is definitely cloud-centric, and its my opinion that Google intentionally left out the SD card slot on the Nexus 7 to force users to become more cloud-dependent.

All said and done, Google's Nexus 7, Apple's smaller sized tablet (per today's WSJ's report), and Microsoft's impending Surface release, are all bound to really heat up the tablet space. The holiday season might have some exciting shopping after all!